Anji Bai Cha
Anji Bai Cha -- New arrival 2021 --
Do you remember what it feels like? To stand peacefully at the water’s edge of a forgotten waterfall? To stroll quietly inside ancient mountain villages? To be embraced by towering bamboo forests where emerald green waves dance with the wind, rising and falling? To watch epic Kung-fu battles in the Oscar-winning movie, ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’? Do you remember what it feels like to breathe? You will after you have discovered Anji Bai Cha.
Anji Bai Cha is an arduous tea cultivar to grow. It is terroir sensitive and temperamental. This is the purest articulation of passion and terroir one thousand years in the making. Inside the pages of the ancient Chinese text, “Da Guan Cha Lun,” of the Tang Dynasty uttered a tea plant with jade white leaves and sweet essences. The idea was once only thought of as a legend until 1982 when a lone mysterious tea bush with distinguish white leaves was discovered in Anji County. Experts later verified that this was the legendary lost cultivar. Even though, this single plant somehow endured more than a millennia, the newly cloned Anji Bai Cha is not a survivor like Chun Mee that can be grown anywhere and thrive even when almost completely neglected. This tea requires constant care and attention. Anji Bai Cha is unusual from other teas in that the spring buds are tender and cover in a white hue. It turns completely white in the middle of March until early April and then gradually returns to green in May. Authentic Anji Bai Cha is only grown in Anji County, China, a little, remote corner of the world. And only the most enduring and nurturing of farmers can do it… to take the time… to understand this rare tea’s true destiny… can evolve it into a perfect expression of harmony, complexity and refinement.
The making of Anji Bai Cha resembled more of an Ironman Triathlon multiply by three weeks than a regular day at a tea garden. This endurance race commences at 5AM (mid-March – early April) with an army of skilled tea pickers. The entire year’s harvest will only last for 15-20 days. The goal of each day is to handpick 2,000 of the most tender leaves (one bud, one leaf). At 5PM, all pickers descend from the high mountain to weight in their prized fresh tea leaves at the factory. At 6:00 PM, the magic begins. The first stage is indoor weathering. All the delicate fresh tea leaves are evenly spread out on a bed to rest with circulating air underneath for two hours. Next, in the kill green stage, the now soft and malleable tea leaves get to dance in a tea wok heated to 200°C. This stage last for about 6-8 minutes. Now on to rolling, at this stage, the tea craftsman masterfully roll a big ball of tea leaves, the size of a mini watermelon into wrinkle strips to allow the nectar to ooze out of the leaves evenly. This almost extinct handcrafted method delivers profound aroma, texture and taste to the tea that are extremely challenging for any machine to replicate. Up next is a ten minute nap for the tea leaves before continuing to its next chapter. At the baking stage, the tea leaves hover over a traditional bamboo basket suspended over a controlled charcoal oven at 90°C for 20 minutes. This completes the tea leave's journey of metamorphosis to become Anji Bai Cha. To qualify for the Family Reserve status, two more stages of refinement will take place in Vancouver, Canada before the reserve seal is awarded.
Still timid on the nose, but the pineapple and cookie dough notes come through on the palate, together with discreet, toasty bamboo aromas. Although this is really concentrated, the power is curtailed and the lush, bright and extravagant whispers of pine nuts, butter cream and plum blossoms slowly creep up and then whisk you away. Upon contemplation, a vibrant and youthful burst of asparagus and umami continue your gastronomic journey to an enduring honey sweet finish.
Anji Bai Cha is a testament of rarity, refinement, and fate. It was once lost. Now it is found. A mystery solved. A legend reignited.
Origin: Anji County, China
Cultivar: Bai Ye Hao
Grade Quality: Family Reserve